Saturday, 21 November 2020

2020 - Life update!

I can't believe it's been over two years since my last post. I feel like I'm sitting at a Confessional right now! Lol. Do people even say "lol" on blogs now? Who knows? Anyway, what a crazy two years it has been. Life has taken some pretty unexpected turns since my last post, and some pretty unexpected turns for most of the developed world in 2020 with the arrival of COVID-19. Yes, I said the c-word. Let's face it, it's pretty inevitable right now that any form of life update or even regular conversation will include at least one reference to coronavirus.

April 2018 was the last time I posted. I left you on the cusp of a new business venture, which, although short-lived, I very much enjoyed. I had endured a health scare at the beginning of that year and had begun to make some changes to my lifestyle, mainly diet-related, and had already started to lose some of the weight that I had gained over the previous 18 months or so. Thankfully this weight loss and lifestyle modification really helped me manage my fibromyalgia and life became more 'normal' again.

Around May 2018 I decided to return to a business that I had made a success of back in 2012/13. Part of my weight loss was down to using Herbalife Nutrition again, and after reconnecting with some old friends, and getting in touch with a few of my old clients, my business took off again. As a busy single Mum of 3, trying to manage a house, a social life and a business, I found myself not having very much time to read for pleasure any more. I like to read non-fiction too, mainly for self-help but had little time to review them and so, sadly the blog was left to rot.

2019 went by in a blur. When I look back at my Goodreads account I can see that I hardly picked up a book. A few in January, but only 7 in total. The list makes for pretty dismal reading. The business was keeping me busy, as were the children and having a pretty active dating life, although the less said about that particular individual now, the better. Towards the end of the year, I realised that, although the business was doing ok, I needed a more stable source of income while the business was still building, so I decided to start looking for a job. The thought of working for someone else after being self-employed for so long was as daunting as it was reassuring. In December 2019 I attended an interview with a local company and the job was mine. It was perfect - part-time, during school hours so no need to worry about being there to drop off and collect the children and only a few minutes away from both the school and home. 

2020 started pretty well. It seemed like the start of a brand new chapter, starting my job on 6th January and the children going back to school after a lovely Christmas break. It took a little while to settle into my new routine juggling work, the children, the business and social life, but by the end of February things were looking great. I don't think I need to tell you what came next. By the middle of March, the schools were closed, I was working from home and life as we knew it had changed dramatically overnight. 

Lots of events took place between then and now. Thankfully I was able to keep my job and I am currently working from home, possibly permanently, which I quite like. 😊 I got to spend an incredible 6 months with the children, albeit stressful at times when trying to help them with school work and I missed them terribly when they returned to school, but saw such a difference in them when they went back. I hadn't realised the true impact that the lack of socialisation had had on them. My Herbalife Nutrition business thrived initially as more people were concerned about their nutrition and being as healthy as they could be, but things started to decline for me. I experienced the worst prolonged period of anxiety and panic attacks that I've ever had. I went from being someone who thrived on alone time, (what reader doesn't?🤣) to dreading being alone on the weekends when the children stayed with their Dad. My relationship (and I use that term very loosely) broke down and I felt thoroughly lost. I'm grateful that I managed to pull myself through a very tough few months and come out the other side better for it. 

As I write this I have now been taking "self-care" pretty seriously for the past few months. I realise that I burned myself out, physically and emotionally, trying to do everything and do it now! As a consequence of the severe stress, my fibromyalgia symptoms returned with an absolute bang. I'm taking things day by day right now and focusing on myself and the children. Mental health has been highlighted more than ever this year and is a struggle for so many. It's important to talk. I feel like this post is so much longer than I intended it to be, and a little more personal, but the point of it was to tell you how I've arrived back here today, and let you in a little bit more. Apparently, I'm a bit of a closed book. I'm sure there's a pun in there somewhere. 🤓

I'm here today because the blog is back for good! Reading has been a big part of my recovery this past few months. It started with non-fiction, personal development has been instrumental in helping me stay focused in the past and it was no different this time around. Alongside a few true-crime Netflix binges came some more non-fiction, this time on the subject of serial killers! Finally, I came back to fiction and my favourite genre - thrillers. I saw a post on Twitter that one of my favourite authors of that genre, Robert Bryndza was about to release a brand new book, so I decided to go back to the beginning and read the first book of his in a series I really enjoyed - The Girl In The Ice. I raced through that, and the rest of the series in a little over a week. I wrote short reviews on Goodreads and shared them on Twitter but the idea of getting back to my blog was growing stronger by the day. A few days ago I made the decision to bring back What Rachael Read Next. It's given me a new focus and it's something I'm excited about. During some of the downtime we had in lockdown, I started some learn-from-home courses so I'm genuinely excited to be able to put some of my new-found knowledge and skills into action!

If you've read this far, thank you. It means a lot. Over the next few months, the blog itself is going to be changed a lot. It's pretty basic in its current form and I learned some coding over the summer, among other things, so fingers crossed that 2021 will see the blog looking pretty sleek and with regular, relevant, engaging and (hopefully) enjoyable content! 

Until next time.

Rachael. x

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